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Getting Started 

Skiing is a lifestyle, and it's never too early to learn

click to enlarge Local mountains offer programs for various skill levels.
  • Local mountains offer programs for various skill levels.

Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area offers a great program and cool graduation presents for those new to the sport of skiing or snowboarding. For $99, the EZ Ski & Ride 1-2-3 gives participants an incentive to come up to Lookout and try it out. Beginners get three lessons, including rentals and lift tickets. Upon completion of the three lessons? "A free season pass for the rest of the season after you graduate," says Chris Barrett, marketing and winter sports school director. This program and deal is only available for those brand-new to the sport. It's available for those ages 13 and up every day Lookout is open, and for ages 7-12 on weekends only.

Silver Mountain Resort boasts one of the longest Magic Carpets in the region, conveniently located 50 feet from the Mountain House and viewable from the patio. "You can see all the way down the bunny hill from the patio," says Willy Bartlett, Silver's marketing coordinator. The Magic Carpet is an easy lift for beginners; there's no riding off the chairlift, just stepping from the snow onto the moving carpet that takes you back to the top of the run. "The biggest difference for us at Silver is the accessibility of tubing and the water park to the ski resort," Bartlett says. "So as a beginner, you have a variety of activities in addition to skiing."

At Schweitzer Mountain Resort, beginners looking to explore skiing and snowboarding will find a long list of full-time, PSIA/AASI instructors available seven days a week throughout the entire season. In addition to the passionate and qualified staff, there are several options for the skiing or snowboarding newbie. This January, Schweitzer will celebrate Learn to Ski Month by offering a special learning package just for beginners. It's a one-day program that includes lift ticket, lesson and rental for $39. The next two lessons are at a discounted rate of $60 per day, and after completion of this three-day program, you receive a season pass, valid from mid-March through season's end. "This is different than the EZ Ski & Ride 1-2-3 program, as it's per day. You pay as you go," says Terry McLeod, Schweitzer's snowsports school director.

49° North wants your kid to love the mountain as much as you do, and it's excited about offering programs for kids of all ages. Rick Brown, director of skiing & snowboarding at 49°, cites the program "Mommy & Me/Daddy & Me": "These lessons include the parent, as we teach them skills to work with the child after the lesson is over." This program is available for kids 2 and up and for one or both parents. Additionally, 49° has an entire fleet of new boards and upgraded rental equipment. "We are really excited about these upgrades," Brown says, "as the new tools will allow newbies to be successful and make them want to come back."

At Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park, even the smallest shredders can get started early with the Learn to Ride program. Mt. Spokane is a certified Burton Learn to Ride Center. "In addition to providing Burton gear, which has been engineered specifically for new riders, our coaches also focus on progression in a fun, safe environment," says Kristin Whitaker, mountain services and marketing manager. "What's cool about the Burton LTR gear, and sets it apart from other learning systems, is that very young kids can now get started snowboarding as early as 3 or 4 years old." The mountain has developed a video series — available for viewing on their website — on different subject matters, including getting to the mountain, what to do once you're there, mountain learning center information and even a survival guide to skiing in the rain. ♦

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